Militarization of Police

Small Florida Town Reaches Major Milestone: First Death by Cop

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This morning, my hometown of St. Cloud, Florida, (population 24,000, give or take a snowbird) had its "first officer-involved fatal shooting" since the city was incorporated in 1915 as a retirement colony for Civil War veterans.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, St. Cloud PD were called to a domestic dispute between two women, during which a gun was fired, but no one was hurt. When police arrived, both women exited the house, one of them unarmed, the other brandishing a gun. The woman with the gun ran away from police, who chased and then shot her.

The woman died at the hospital.

St. Cloud Police Chief Pete Gauntlett told the Sentinel, "It's my understanding she brandished the weapon toward the officers after repeatedly being told to drop it." 

The chase started on the 400 block of Tennessee Avenue, two blocks north of the duplex my mother, brother and I shared with a convicted child rapist who owned a sporting goods store a few counties over. (While he never got his hands on us, he did show my brother and me how to pick the lock to the front door of our unit when we forgot our house key. In hindsight, he exercised considerable restraint.) The shooting occurred one street over on Alabama Ave., where my friend Sean lived with his mom and a pet squirrel that–I swear to God–had its own bedroom. Neighbors said they heard only four shots. 

According to the Sentinel, it had been 20 years since St. Cloud police last shot someone. Considering that St. Cloud is second only to Holopaw, and maybe Yeehaw Junction, in meth production in Osceola County, I am surprised that it took this long for the St. Cloud PD to shoot someone to death. The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the shooting, and I sincerely hope Gauntlett's "understanding" holds up. 

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  1. Not feelin the outrage here, Mike.

    1. I’m mostly just sad.

  2. Yeehaw Junction?

    Well, that confirms pretty much everything I’ve ever observed about central Florida outside of Winter Park and some of Orlando.

    1. I was just there. We drove down to Ft. Lauderdale from Tampa (notoriously located in Central Florida, incidentally) by way of Hwy. 60 instead of the usual Alligator Alley. Love the name.

      1. I never really considered Tampa to be part of central Florida. Too coastal.

        1. What?

          1. Yeah… to us true born crackers, Central Florida touches neither the Gulf or the Atlantic. Tampa is West Coast, Orlando is Central Florida, Ft. Lauderdale is East Coast. Also, South Florida includes everything south of the mouse.

            1. I agree with the South Florida bit, but how Tampa is outside of Central Florida is beyond me.

              What amuses me to no end is how people say Florida isn’t a Southern state. Judging strictly by some–not all!–of the large coastal urban centers, I suppose I could see that. Judging by anything else, it’s an absurd comment. The entire Panhandle, large chunks of North Central (including Jax) and Central Florida, and even some areas near the cities (including Tampa) are plenty Southern.

              1. I grew up on the SW coast on a barrier island. I went to a public high school with roughly 700 students, of whom, only 5 were born in Florida. All of my schoolmates were from Michigan or Ohio. So I can certainly see where the misperception comes from. On a similar note, I have often though that the panhandle is so culturally disconnected from the rest the state (everything north of the Ocala National Forest is essentially Southern Georgia) that the capital should be relocated to Tampa.

                1. A lot of people get confused about Florida. There are actually three parts to Florida

                  -Sub-Southern Georgia (rednecks – my people)
                  -Yankee refugee colonies on the coasts including several Old-People-Villes
                  -Puerto Ricuba in the south

                  I find the interaction of these disparate groups fascinating.

                  1. Florida really is three separate states. It feels like you’re traveling through different countries altogether when you encounter the separate cultures. Though as for that, try asking for directions in English in little havana. The old cuban folk dont seem to Speak English at all and are shocked to meet anyone who doesnt speak Spanish. The food’s mighty tasty though. Can’t get proper Cuban food here in Vegas.

              2. While Tampa is technically in Central Florida (which raises the question of why it’s home to USF), Tampa Bay is often considered it’s own separate region consisting of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, and (most of the time) Hernando Counties.

              3. Those of us transplanted Yankees in the Panhandle refer to it as LA (Lower Alabama.) The locals call it the Redneck Riviera.

            2. In over a decade of living in the U.S., my biracial ass has never had a scary racist incident – outside of Yeehaw Junction. Jebuz! With that name,I shoulda knowed. 🙁

              1. We got gas while I was there, and I swear I could hear “Dueling Banjos” in the background.

                1. Really, Pro lib? Thats where my situation happened, getting gas. Was on the way to Sarasota and my gas light turned yellow. Weird fucking people.

                2. Did you stop at the Pilot station, or the other one? For years I thought the sign for Yeehaw Junction was just the name of the intersection. As you drive through it the entire town seems to consist of two gas stations.

                  1. Can’t remember which one, Mensan, it was many hears ago. I know it was a large station and not that far from the highway, if that helps distinguish it any. The hatred and distrust in every pair of eyes in that gas station, and the attendant literally giving me change, without ever looking down, while looking at my eyes, freaked me the fuck out though. It could have been something else altogether – like not being used to seeing a stranger – but I do think it had something to do with seeing a mythical darkie. I walked to get a coke to one of the refrigerators and the eyes followed me the whole way there and the whole way back. WTF?

                3. I’ve had that experience in nearly every state I’ve driven through — even Upstate New York. If you get far enough off the beaten paths, you’ll find rednecks everywhere.

                  1. The “reply to this” option sems to be effed up.

                  2. Maybe Ive been luckier than most, Shirt. That same year I drove all over South Carolina and never had a repeat.

            3. Small quibble, but Daytona south to Cocoa/Melbourne captures the essence of Central Florida pretty well.

  3. Rein it in, Riggs.
    Awards season is over.

  4. While he never got his hands on us, he did show my brother and I how to pick the lock to the front door of our unit when we forgot our house key. In hindsight, he exercised considerable restraint.

    This is the best thing that’s ever been written on Reason. Out-fucking-standing.

    1. I want to know more about the squirrel’s bedroom.

      1. I was wondering if he grew up to become a sportscaster.

        1. The squirrel or the pedophile?

  5. Those Jeff Foxworthy jokes sure hit close to home, don’t they Riggs?

  6. The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the shooting, and I sincerely hope Gauntlett’s “understanding” holds up.

    I can save them tons of investigating time: “The officer’s actions were fully justified.”

    From talking to cops, I know that they hate ‘domestic dispute’ calls more than any other, but the cops I know have all taken training in de-escalating situations.

    My guess is that the cop in question missed that class.

    1. I blame Grand Theft Auto. Cops shouldn’t be allowed the play that game.

      1. Not being a gamer, I always thought Grand Theft Auto was about asset forfeiture.

        1. Among other things. It’s also about shooting everyone and getting away with it. Granted, you don’t play a cop in that game, but I doubt they catch the nuances.

          Ban!

          1. It’s also about shooting everyone and getting away with it.

            OK. Get your point. This could explain half the posts on The Agitator.

          2. I never got away with it. Every time I went on a shooting spree in that game I would end up dying in a hail of bullets. Unless I used the invincibility cheat code.

  7. “The shooting occurred one street over on Alabama Ave., where my friend Sean lived with his mom and a pet squirrel that–I swear to God–had its own bedroom. Neighbors said they heard only four shots.”
    And THIS juxtaposition is excellent. Somebody give the kid a raise.

    1. Oh — I see he’s an “associate editor.”
      Give yourself a raise, kid.

      1. I think that associate editor is the entry level position at Reason.

        1. The last time more responsibilities were added to my job, my company wouldn’t give me a raise, but they did let me add another title to my business card.

        2. I’m old enough to remember when David Weigel assumed the entry level position at the drop of a hat. I bet he still does.

  8. I am surprised that it took this long for the St. Cloud PD to shoot someone to death

    Some things in life are worth waiting for.

  9. According to Wikipedia, Yeehaw Junction was originally called Jackass Junction. Which makes it even awesomer.

    1. Holy cow, I’d never heard that before! Love it.

      “Yeehaw”, apparently, is Seminole for “wolf.” I thought it just meant yeee-haw!

      Gainesville was once known as Hogtown, Tampa is Osceola for “sticks of fire” (i.e., lightning), and Boca Raton means “rats mouth” in Spanish. We’re all about colorful names down here.

      1. I never get tired of Hogtown. But I’m a 2nd generation FSU grad.

        1. Tallahassee is Apalachee for abandoned fields. FSU, of course, stands for the Florida State College for Women.

          1. Please. I won’t be sneered at by an alumnus of the animal husbandry university.

            1. Too late!

              1. **shakes fist**

                1. In a tomahawk-chopping manner? You realize that’s racist?

                  1. We send anyone from the Seminole Nation to school for free and they let us use or create traditions. Its as close to a Coasean bargain as you can get. Now when the Braves fans do it, that’s racist.

                    And I will forever have a place in my heart for TK Weatherell telling the NCAA to get fucked over their stupid Native American mascot ban.

                    1. I remember several flair-ups about FSU’s mascot, and they’ve never made any danged sense to me. The tribe had made it clear long ago that it was fine with them.

                      Besides, the Vikings.

                    2. It’s funny that you see many more UF “fans” around my area, but more FSU alumni. From my completely unscientific, and purely anecdotal investigations into the matter, I have concluded that most UF fans have never attended college.

                      Full disclosure: I am also an FSU alumnus.

                    3. I see just the opposite up here in…what was it..Sub-Southern Georgia. In fact, most of the most educated people around also have the good taste to be UF alumni. Most of the FSU fans just decided that they liked them during that streak in the mid-90s and then attended UNF at best.*

                      *I attended both UNF and UF.

  10. Considering that St. Cloud is second only to Holopaw, and maybe Yeehaw Junction, in meth production in Osceola County

    Sounds like there is some serious competition to be the meth capital of central Florida.

    1. Now there’s an awards show that should be televised!

    2. Every trailer park is in contention.

      1. Trailers in Florida seem like one of those archetypal bad ideas.

        1. I thought that was trailers in the Oklahoma panhandle.

          1. Similar reason.

        2. Trailers in Florida seem like one of those archetypal bad ideas.

          So, does that mean that Pinellas Park is a bad idea?

        3. Have you seen that old ad for Palm Harbor Homes that shows a Central FL trailer park post-hurricane with every house gone except for theirs. It is a wonderful illustration of your comment.

  11. I find it amusing Riggs comes from total white trash Florida. It explains his unfounded prejudice against the more civilized portion of the state.

    1. If the quartering of squirrels, voluntarily and with consent of the Owner, is uncivilized, then I return my ticket to civilization.
      I return my ticket.

      1. “You know, a good squirrel will do that”

      2. Quartering squirrels is only permitted if it is a William Wallace squirrel.

    2. White trash may not predominate north Florida, but they’re certainly there. Unfortunately I’m related to a couple of them. Mind you I have civilized relations there as well.

      My bible thumping hillbilly kinfolk appreciate you standing up for them.

  12. According to the Orlando Sentinel, St. Cloud PD were called to a domestic dispute between two women, during which a gun was fired, but no one was hurt. When police arrived, both women exited the house, one of them unarmed, the other brandishing a gun

    Lesbians… I knew it.

    1. In this part of the world, they could just be blood relatives.

      1. Why not both?

  13. St. Cloud is second only to Holopaw, and maybe Yeehaw Junction

    Yeehaw Junction? Yeehaw Junction? I refuse to google that. You just made that shit up.

    1. If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldnt believe it. I still doubt my lying eyes sometimes…

  14. Just another day in the dong of America.

    1. Hey Europe, eat my Florida!!

  15. Congratulations!

  16. Two corrections:

    1) The population of St. Cloud is closer to 35,000.

    2) The shooting is being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, not FHP.

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